MMA: No jabs taken before the fight

American Holly Holm (left) and Bethe Correia of Brazil face off before their main event at UFC Fight Night Singapore today. The fight will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
American Holly Holm (left) and Bethe Correia of Brazil face off before their main event at UFC Fight Night Singapore today. The fight will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Holm, Correia remain indifferent at weigh-in but expect a big battle at the Indoor Stadium

It was the time and place for bravado but Holly Holm and Bethe Correia decided that they would leave their fighting talk aside and conserve their energy for the real thing inside the Octagon instead.

Their weigh-in yesterday, ahead of today's Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Night Singapore, was perhaps remarkable for the absence of trash talk that is typical of mixed martial arts exponents on the eve of their fights.

In front of a crowd of about 1,000 people at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Holm, a 35-year-old American who is a former UFC bantamweight champion, simply said: "I've been doing everything to prepare for this fight. I'm ready for everything. I fear every opponent as if it's the last fight of my life."

After the ceremonial face-off between the two fighters, Correia, a 33-year-old Brazilian, said through an interpreter: "It's going to be an incredible fight. Both of us want to win. But victory is mine - it's written in the stars."

There was plenty of talking, however, before the 24 fighters on the 12-fight card came on stage, flexed their muscles and stepped on the scales.

UFC welterweights Stephen Thompson, Jorge Masvidal and No. 2 women's bantamweight fighter Julianna Pena took part in a 45-minute question-and-answer session with fans. The session was moderated by former British UFC fighter Dan Hardy.

When asked to call the Holm-Correia bout, Pena joked: "That's easy, I think it's going to be a tie," which drew laughter from the crowd.

"No, I've got Holly," she added. "I would love to fight Holly Holm, I think that's the money fight there."

While the action has yet to begin, it was nonetheless a night to remember for UFC fans.

Facility manager Khidir Yatim, 25, plucked up his courage to step up to the microphone to talk to his idol Hardy.

He said of that nervous moment: "I was rehearsing the question non-stop in my head, I didn't want to stammer. It's a moment I'll never forget."

Many fans and passers-by were also delighted to be able to take photographs with the UFC stars, who roamed freely at MBS.

ALWAYS READY

I've been doing everything to prepare for this fight. I'm ready for everything. I fear every opponent as if it's the last fight of my life.

HOLLY HOLM, on how prepared she is for the fight. 

Akshay Raj, a 16-year-old Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary 4 student, took photographs with Rafael dos Anjos and Walt Harris.

He said: "There are no bodyguards around them and they are so friendly. My friends and I have always watched UFC on TV so it's like a dream to see them."

FATED TO WIN

It's going to be an incredible fight. Both of us want to win.

But victory is mine - it's written in the stars.

BETHE CORREIA, expressing confidence that she will emerge victorious in the bout.

While Holm is the main headline act that UFC has rolled out for its second show in Singapore, fans are looking forward to more than just the main event.

Tickets for the first UFC event in the Republic since 2014 are selling fast and close to 10,000 fans are expected to be at the Singapore Indoor Stadium tonight.

Philippe le Saux, 36, has watched every pay-per-view UFC event at least for the past five years and he will be going for his first live event today.

The Filipino-Frenchman, a director at a Hong Kong-based publishing firm, said: "The casual fan might think there's only Holly Holm (worth watching). Is it the best card UFC has had? No. But it's a solid card."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'No jabs taken before the fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe